Archive for the ‘U. S. A.’ Category
Mary Gavelda immigrated from Austria-Hungary (now Poland) in 1909, and then married Simon Chucalovich in 1911. Mary, who is Velda’s paternal Grandmother, became a naturalized citizen in 1939 … and Velda was named for her.
Given the political surge towards dealing with illegal immigration in some fashion, I thought it worthwhile to review what it takes to become a citizen.
I did it the easy way. As Lady Gaga sang, “I Was Born This Way.”
There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. However, the last time the US created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, only a fraction of those eligible became naturalized — less than half, in fact.
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the (current) Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be age 18 or older;
- Be a (ed. note: legal) permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years but less for some individuals);
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government;
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
There is a test! You must pass a test on US history and government, and another test on English. Here’s a recent history and government test summary from the Wall Street Journal:
Here are a few of the more interesting questions from our current N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?
Have you ever been a member or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:
a. The Communist Party?
b. Any other totalitarian party?
c. A terrorist organization?
Do you have any title of nobility in any foreign country?
On July 3, 2012 at the Seattle Center, 520 people from 79 nations became U.S. citizens. – Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
How About Your Family?
We are a nation of immigrants.
I hope our political leaders can find their way clear to solving the complex issue that is immigration. We need to control our borders … but we also need to be realistic about the labor needs in our country. California crops would rot in the field if not for the migrant labor that follows the harvest. I’m not a fan of the illegals clustered around Home Depot and equipment rental yards hoping to catch some day labor. I absolutely believe that employers should only employ legal residents.
However, we cannot and must not be a closed society. Immigrants should have a chance to succeed in our country, just as my ancestors did.
BAD! It is not OK to wear the US flag. Not as a swimsuit, not as a cape, not as a t-shirt. Not. O. K.
There are rules. How we should display the US Flag is described clearly in something called the US Flag Code. There’s a link below; meanwhile, here are my pet peeves. Far too many citizens are either ignorant or uncaring about how they should display their flag. Let’s try and set that right, OK?
1. You can’t wear the flag.
Section 8d: The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.
Section 8j: No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.
I cringe at the Olympics … no, you shouldn’t wrap yourself in the flag. It shouldn’t be on your t-shirt. It shouldn’t be printed on your clothing at all; you can’t wear the flag (there are a few obvious exceptions, such as patches worn on uniforms by our astronauts, military and police. And Boy Scouts!).
2. You can’t imprint flags on napkins. You can’t imprint on commercial items … like credit cards.
BAD! Totally wrong to wipe your mouth on these napkins.
Section 8i: The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
It’s really simple: you can’t use the flag to promote your business (which is the advertising part). And you can’t imprint the flag on something that’s meant to be thrown away, like napkins or boxes. The flag should be given more respect than that.
3. The flag goes to the right of the speaker on stage.
Section 7k: When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
BAD! This flag needs to be retired immediately.
5. When a flag becomes soiled or tattered, it should be destroyed.
Section 8k: The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
If the flag is showing visible wear, then it is no longer suitable for display. This is an utterly simple concept, but it’s ignored by almost every business that displays the US flag. When flags need to be retired, you can do it yourself in a private ceremony if you wish. Organizations like the Boy Scouts or VFW will also help you destroy worn flags, if you would like their help. I’ve participated in several flag retirements. It’s a very emotional event.
BAD! Katy Perry’s costumes are not to be made of flags.
6. Flags do not fly in the dark unless they are properly lit.
Section 6a: It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
The Code is silent on what “proper illumination” would be, but the flag should not be left in darkness. Further, the flag should only fly in inclement weather if it is a weatherproof flag (e.g., nylon, not cotton).
USA’s Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Angelo Taylor celebrate their silver medal in the men’s 4×400-meter during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
7. When flags are displayed hanging from a wall, then the blue field is to the left of the observer, or on the flag’s right.
Section 7i: When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
Display the flag properly, or don’t display it at all. Why is this such a hard idea? The rules are very simple, right?
BAD. No way this flag can be put away while showing proper respect for the US flag.
8. A flag should not be touching other objects … like a nearby tree, or a roof.
Section 8e: The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
This happens in my neighborhood all of the time. People post a flag from the front of their house, but are then oblivious when the flag snags on the roof or nearby tree branches. If you’re not displaying the flag properly … you’re not showing respect. In my view, you’re showing contempt and ignorance.
9. Those really big flags on the field before a sporting event? Not OK.
Section 8c: The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
Another one of those “don’t get me started” public displays. It is cool to see a really, really big flag … but then when you see how the flag is drug on the ground and wadded up at the end of the display, then I am not entertained at all.
Congressional Research Service
US Flag Code
US Flag: The First
US Flag: The Second
US Flag: The Third
US Flag: The Snake Flags
The first US Flag was authorized by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. That flag had 13 stars & 13 stripes … if you haven’t read my post on that topic, the link is below. The fact that this resolution was passed on June 14 is why we now celebrate Flag Day on that day.
Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.
The second US Flag was authorized by the Flag Act of 1794, and it had 15 stripes and 15 stars. That flag would last for 24 years, and see 5 more states enter into the Union before a new law was passed.
An Act making an alteration in the Flag of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That from and after the first day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, the flag of the United States, be fifteen stripes alternate red and white. That the Union be fifteen stars, white in a blue field.
In 1818, after five more states had been admitted, Congress finally passed a new resolution governing the design of a third US flag … as well as subsequent flags
An Act to establish the flag of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress Assembled, That from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be twenty stars, white in a blue field.
And be it further enacted, That on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect of the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.
The 20 star flag served for just one year, as Illinois became our 21st star in 1819.
30 stars have been added to this flag. The 50-star version was designed by a student in Ohio in 1958.
Lincoln did not alter the flag after the Confederate states seceded from the US. He did not feel their secession was legal; we fought the Civil War to ensure 1861′s 33-star flag would continue to be our flag.
Though the number of stars did not change, their color did! Many Civil War-era flags used gold stars in the blue field of the flag, as opposed to the more common, specified, white stars. Even though the number of stars and stripes was specified by the 1818 law, the arrangement of those stars was not codified until Roosevelt signed the US Flag Code in 1942.
There are anecdotal stories of flags with gold stripes that were produced in the early- to mid- 20th century. These flags may or may not have been produced by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot in Philadelphia (records show they were discussed and recommended by that group). However, there was never any approval and these flags are not in compliance with the 1818 law or the 1942 code that governs the design of the US flag.
There was no official pattern for the stars on the flag until the adoption of the 48-star flag in 1912. The Army and Navy did use standardized designs, but there was variation between flags based on personal preference.
This alternative design of a 36-star flag could have been used from July 4, 1865 until July 3, 1867. A 37-star flag was introduced on July 4, 1867.
A flag protection movement surged in the late 1800′s, but failed to win federal legislation. States began to pass their own laws on how to treat the US flag, and by 1932, all states had adopted flag desecration laws.
These laws were superseded by the US Flag Code which was ratified in 1942. The US Supreme Court has since ruled that freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, trumps any flag desecration laws. The Flag Code is a guide to how citizens should treat the US flag: there are no penalties for not following the Code.
The current 50-star flag has been the US flag the longest of the 27 different flags that have waved over the United States. The flag with the second longest tenure was the 48-star flag, which was the US flag for 47 years, 1912 – 1959.
The 50-star flag became the official US flag on July 4, 1960: the first July 4th after Hawaii was admitted to the union.
US Flag: The First
US Flag: The Second
US Flag: The Snake Flags
Our Flag, from the US Government Printing Office
Flag Depot’s Excellent Timeline of The 27 US Flags
Robert G Heft, Designer of our 50 Star Flag
Gold Stripes on WWII Casket Flags?
I’m a former numismatist. Gave it up … but I’m intrigued by efforts to introduce the new dollar coins. Why aren’t you?
Here’s the quick summary: dollar coins are cheaper to make & maintain than dollar bills. If we just lose the bills and convert to coins, the government (that we pay for) would save millions and millions of dollars.
Here’s what the General Accounting Office said in 2012:
Over the past 40 years, many nations have replaced lower-denomination notes with coins as a means of providing a financial benefit to their governments. GAO has reported five times over the past 22 years that replacing the $1 note with a $1 coin would provide a net benefit to the government of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
These are the 2013 issues of the Presidential Dollar series. The mint is no longer making them for general circulation … until the backlog from prior years is eased into circulation.
There’s research that says Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the dollar bills. Convenience is what matters, apparently.
There’s research that says that when they hear of the cost, though, Americans are 2:1 in favor of converting to the coins.
I’m not a big fan of carrying coins in my pocket, but changing from dollar bills to dollar coins? I’m a fan.
And the Presidential series of dollar coins with the edge lettering are really cool. I’m a fan!
Why aren’t you?
Mommy’s Weird – the Canadian penny
The Facts on Why to Switch
The Presidential Coin Program
I hate snakes. Hate’em.
The rattlesnake, a reptile found only in the Americas, was the first animal used to symbolize the colonies prior to the creation of the USA.
When the colonies began to chafe under English rule, it was observed that England was sending convicts to America. Benjamin Franklin suggested that we return the favor by sending them rattlesnakes. His thoughts were published in the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1751:
“In the Spring of the Year, when they first creep out of their Holes, they are feeble, heavy, slow, and easily taken; and if a small Bounty were allow’d per Head, some Thousands might be collected annually, and transported to Britain. There I would propose to have them carefully distributed in St. James’s Park, in the Spring-Gardens and other Places of Pleasure about London; in the Gardens of all the Nobility and Gentry throughout the Nation; but particularly in the Gardens of the Prime Ministers, the Lords of Trade and Members of Parliament; for to them we are most particularly obliged…I would only add, That this Exporting of Felons to the Colonies, may be consider’d as a Trade, as well as in the Light of a Favour. Now all Commerce implies Returns: Justice requires them: There can be no Trade without them. And Rattle-Snakes seem the most suitable Returns for the Human Serpents sent us by our Mother Country. In this, however, as in every other Branch of Trade, she will have the Advantage of us. She will reap equal Benefits without equal Risque of the Inconveniencies and Dangers. For the RattleSnake gives Warning before he attempts his Mischief; which the Convict does not.”
I like Ben Franklin. And if his plan would have rid the country of snakes, I’m sad it was never implemented.
Known for their fierce response when disturbed, the rattlesnake became a prominent feature on early battle flags in the Revolutionary War. Rattlesnakes were native throughout the original 13 colonies.
A rattlesnake on a flag was first used as a symbol for US Marines attached to the seven ship United States Navy. General George Washington established the navy to make raids on English shipping, and the Second Continental Congress approved the creation of five companies of Marines to accompany the Navy on the first mission. Those Marines, enlisted in Philadelphia, carried drums painted yellow with a 13-rattle rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t Tread On Me.”
Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden presented what has become known as the Gadsden flag to Commodore Esek Hopkins to serve as the personal standard of his flagship.
For a time, it was thought that the First Navy Jack was used in the Revolutionary War by the Navy, but those accounts were apparently in error. A striped jack was used in the war, but there’s no evidence that it had a snake on it. That tradition took hold, however, and the symbol is now used in today’s US Navy.
Said to be the first political cartoon, Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” illustration was first published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754. It indicated N.E. for New England at the head, and then identified the colonies in order going south down the coast.
200 men from the Virginia colony fought under this flag in 1775.
Various versions of the Gadsden Flag had an apostrophe (or not), a grass field for the snake to spring from (or not), and the snake facing left or right.
The First Navy Jack is now flown on the oldest navy ship in service: currently the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.
Today, sailors fighting in the war on terror wear First Navy Jack patches on their camouflage uniforms. Other U.S. military personnel, particularly special operations personnel, have worn First Navy Jack embroidered patches as well.
Benjamin Franklin, AKA “An American Guesser” on the rattle-snake
Department of the Navy on the First Union Jack
US Flag: The First
US Flag: The Second